Many people experience at least one, and sometimes more, of the several types of pelvic organ prolapses.
- Bladder Prolapse – Cystocele
This is the most common kind of pelvic organ prolapse. This happens when the bladder presses against the wall of the vagina.
- Urethral Prolapse – Urethrocele
This is when the urethral tube, which carries the urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, curves and/or widens.
- Uterine Prolapse
This happens when the uterus drops from its normal position and allows the cervix to press further into the vagina.
- Vaginal Vault Prolapse
This type of prolapse normally only happens after a hysterectomy. When the vagina no longer has the support from the uterus, it may drop into the vaginal canal.
- Small Bowel Prolapse – Enterocele
This is when the small bowel presses against the wall of the vagina.
If the tissues separating the vagina and rectum are too weak, it can cause a bulge in the back wall of the vagina.
All of these prolapses are caused by stretched or weakened ligaments, tissues, fascia and/or muscles (pelvic floor muscles) that support the pelvic area.
It is most common for someone who has been pregnant or has given birth to experience one or more of these prolapses due to the strain from pregnancy or delivery.
Breastfeeding can lessen estrogen levels and contribute to weakening the vaginal walls.
Aging may be another factor in experiencing a prolapse: with falling estrogen levels during and after menopause, the pelvic floor may lose some of its strength and elasticity.
Many people who have a pelvic organ prolapse do not have symptoms and may not even realize the prolapse occurred. These are minor and do not cause any issues or pain.
Others have found them quite bothersome and have reported symptoms such as:
- Pelvic pressure
- An abnormal bulge inside their vagina
- Feeling as though something is protruding out of their vagina
- A pulling or stretching in the groin area
- Lower back pain
- Painful intercourse
- Spotting or bleeding
- Urinary problems or incontinence
- Problem with bowel movements
A prolapse rarely gets better on its own. Speak with your doctor if you’re unsure. They may recommend that you see a special physical therapist to correct the prolapse and get your organs back to where they belong!
Things that can worsen your prolapse include:
- Chronic cough/allergies or sneezing
- Heavy lifting
Even with a prolapse, many people have been able to use a menstrual cup successfully and without pain. The key here is to find a cup that doesn’t cause any discomfort and is still effective.
Because a prolapse will cause the vagina to be shaped differently than a “normal” vagina, it may take some trial and error to find the right cup, position, and angle. However, with the right one, it should be both possible and comfortable.
The majority of the people with a prolapse of any kind have reported that a shorter and/or wider cup tends to fit better. Firmness depends on the individual, but some feel that their cups actually help support their vaginal walls rather than worsening the prolapse.